Brazil to be key in sustainable aviation fuel development, says Boeing executive

Aviation industry

Photo: Collected

In a significant development for the aviation industry’s pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Brazil has emerged as a potential major global player in the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), according to a statement by a senior Boeing executive. 

Landon Loomis, the head of Boeing’s Latin America and the Caribbean division, expressed optimism during a forum hosted by the company in Sao Paulo, asserting that Brazil possesses the essential elements – including technical expertise, a skilled workforce, and abundant raw materials – to make substantial contributions toward resolving the pressing challenge of decarbonizing aviation.

The aviation sector has long grappled with the imperative to reduce its carbon footprint, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines worldwide, has set the ambitious target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

The attainment of this goal hinges mainly on the successful development and increased production of sustainable aviation fuel derived from renewable resources like vegetable oils and waste materials. 

This emphasis on sustainable alternatives stems from the aviation industry’s recognition of the necessity to transition away from fossil fuels to more eco-friendly options.

Brazil, a country renowned for its prominence as a global agricultural powerhouse, is poised to capitalize on its expertise in biofuels to drive the advancement of sustainable aviation fuel. 

The nation’s established leadership in biofuels such as ethanol, derived from sugarcane or corn, and soy oil-based biodiesel demonstrates its capacity to innovate in sustainable energy solutions. These existing strengths serve as a solid foundation for Brazil’s potential contributions to the development of SAF.

Boeing’s Landon Loomis underscored the company’s commitment to sustainable aviation fuel, highlighting that Boeing already stands as one of the world’s largest purchasers of this crucial resource. 

While acknowledging the necessity of radical technological advancements in curbing aviation emissions, Loomis emphasized that the industry’s immediate focus remains on finding fuels compatible with existing jet engines. 

Notably, this includes plant or waste-based SAF and synthetic alternatives.

A significant challenge in the journey toward net-zero emissions lies in securing an adequate supply of sustainable aviation fuel. Industry experts point to the formidable barriers of high production costs and slow growth in production capacity. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected that sustainable aviation fuel could constitute up to 65% of the sector’s efforts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, some voices within the industry have expressed skepticism about the feasibility of reaching the emissions target within the stipulated timeframe. 

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker raised concerns in May, suggesting that the sector’s limited access to sufficient SAF supplies could hinder the realization of the emissions goal.

The urgency surrounding the issue of SAF supply is palpable, as echoed by Brazilian airline Gol. Eduardo Calderon, the director of Gol’s Operations Control Center, stressed the imperative of immediate action. Calderon emphasized that the current cost of sustainable aviation fuel is nearly three times higher than traditional fossil fuels, presenting a significant financial hurdle. He underscored the global urgency of the situation, cautioning that delays in initiating the SAF production process could compromise the ambitious 2050 emissions reduction goal.

In conclusion, Brazil’s emergence as a potential leader in sustainable aviation fuel production marks a pivotal moment in the aviation industry’s quest for carbon neutrality. With its established expertise in biofuels and abundant resources, Brazil possesses the essential elements to contribute significantly to the development of SAF. 

While challenges related to supply and cost persist, the industry’s collective commitment to sustainability and innovation underscores the determination to achieve the ambitious emissions reduction target by 2050. 

The aviation sector’s ongoing evolution towards more environmentally conscious practices is a testament to collaboration and ingenuity’s power in addressing global challenges.

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